Basketball journalist Hannah Robbins discusses key players in Tulsa’s 72-65 win over Austin Peay on Saturday, including newcomer Brandon Rachal’s 30 points.
As the pregame season starts to wind down, Tulsa basketball has started to heat up, and some of the new players on the team this season have started to get in the groove. Brandon Rachal, a transfer student from LSU, scored a game-high 30 points, leading in points for the Golden Hurricane for the second game in a row. Junior Darian Jackson seems to have grown from his two years on the team, scoring 16 points to help Tulsa defeat Austin Peay on Saturday.
From the start, Tulsa was bringing the game to Austin Peay. Rachal scored his first points of the game off a jumper in less than a minute. It was all Rachal for the first three minutes of the game; after seven unanswered points, Austin Peay finally got on the board.
However, Austin Peay continued to struggle, lagging behind Tulsa as much as 10 points while Rachal continued to score all the points for Tulsa. Six minutes into the game, Josh Earley became the next Tulsa player on the board.
Tulsa continued to dominate as the half continued on, but key shots by Austin Peay let Tulsa’s lead narrow. Austin Peay seemed to be able to handle the ball better, stealing from Tulsa at opportune moments. The game continued to be close as the final five minutes of the half approached, and Austin Peay saw their chance.
As Austin Peay players connected with the hoop, they also prevented Tulsa from scoring, blocking a shot by Earley and forcing multiple turnovers. Tulsa trailed the rest of the half, unable to put together plays to bring them back into the lead, getting up to a deficit of two before halftime.
Rachal seemed to back in the groove second half, scoring a layup to tie up the game within the first minute of the second half. After a quick battle for the lead, Tulsa started to gain ground thanks to layups by Jackson and Rachal.
Jackson started to connect with the hoop, scoring six points in two minutes to bring Tulsa to a lead of eight, but that did not last. The game was close for the next several minutes, with Austin Peay tying the game several times, but rarely gaining the lead.
Martins Igbanu started the drive that finally gave Tulsa a lasting win with a jump shot, followed shortly by a dunk by Jackson. Despite several attempts, Rachal and Jackson were able to keep the lead by hitting free throws and a final layup by Jackson with seconds left in the game to win 72-65.
Tulsa won this matchup, but only barely. Austin Peay is not as difficult as most of the teams the Golden Hurricane will play this year, and since Tulsa could barely keep up with the steals and defense of the Governors, this does not bode well for some of the matchups coming down the line. This is preseason basketball, and hopefully head coach Frank Haith will take some of the lessons from these games into the regular season.